Bears

The Jaylon Johnson hype is building: 'He's ready'

Bears

When cornerback Jaylon Johnson started his already-shortened rookie training camp with limited reps, it seemed like a certainty that he wouldn't be ready to start Week 1 in Detroit. Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano even said that Johnson was "starting behind the 8-ball" and that rookies had "a lot of catching up to do," later suggesting that team's cornerback depth allowed them to bring Johnson along slowly. 

Fast forward a few weeks, and the Bears are singing a different tune. The team's been impressed with what they've seen since Johnson became a full participant, and Matt Nagy's comments on the rookie from Monday night sure make it seem like Johnson's on the inside track for CB2 in Detroit: 

He's ready. I really feel like he's ready. I can't remember if I told you a story about the interception. Remember the pick on Foles? Remember that pick? So, that was a veteran move that he made on that play. A lot of rookies at that point in time play it a little bit differently. Without giving out too much stuff on the play, that was all instincts. That play he made was all instincts. As a matter of fact, Foles, he asked after the play, 'How did you know that that play was coming?' He said it was just instincts. Nick was surprised because he thought maybe his defensive coaches were scouting the play, telling him to fall off and make that pick. It was all instincts.

The other part I like about him is I'm rousing him all the time in the building. You can see his confidence that he has. You have to have short-term memory in this league. He's got extreme confidence. And it's not cocky. It's confidence. I like that about him. He's got a ways to go. He hasn't played an NFL game. We'll see. But in practice so far, I like where he's at. 

Buster Skrine, Kevin Toliver, and Kindle Vildor have all cycled through reps with the first team while Johnson's ramped up. The Bears would probably prefer not to use their starting nickel corner on the outside (plus, defensive line coach Jay Rodgers said that the defense is only in base "25 to 35 percent" of the time) and neither Toliver or Vildor has put much of a claim on that spot in Johnson's absence. After all the concern, Johnson may end being a Week 1 starter after all.